Best Japanese Books

(Note: if the author is not Japanese, the book is not Japanese. Edit: This has generally been interpreted to exclude also authors of Japanese descent who have grown up elsewhere, so please vote for them on other lists instead.)
1

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4.02 avg rating — 204,833 ratings
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2

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4.17 avg rating — 152,728 ratings
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3

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4.13 avg rating — 183,179 ratings
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4

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4.24 avg rating — 39,562 ratings
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5

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4.15 avg rating — 73,518 ratings
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6

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3.88 avg rating — 131,241 ratings
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7

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3.67 avg rating — 72,673 ratings
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8

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3.93 avg rating — 16,315 ratings
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9

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3.83 avg rating — 29,237 ratings
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10

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3.82 avg rating — 71,340 ratings
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11

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3.94 avg rating — 60,197 ratings
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12

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3.87 avg rating — 56,946 ratings
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13

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3.90 avg rating — 13,062 ratings
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14

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3.70 avg rating — 11,701 ratings
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15

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4.03 avg rating — 46,794 ratings
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16

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3.98 avg rating — 10,340 ratings
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17

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3.70 avg rating — 7,594 ratings
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18

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3.67 avg rating — 6,993 ratings
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19

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4.12 avg rating — 4,416 ratings
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20

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3.89 avg rating — 9,958 ratings
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21

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3.71 avg rating — 4,884 ratings
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22

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3.98 avg rating — 7,113 ratings
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23

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3.61 avg rating — 10,892 ratings
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24

by
3.83 avg rating — 22,694 ratings
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25

by
3.94 avg rating — 18,661 ratings
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26

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3.77 avg rating — 26,067 ratings
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27

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3.90 avg rating — 8,303 ratings
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28

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4.05 avg rating — 6,927 ratings
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29

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3.78 avg rating — 5,757 ratings
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30

by
4.02 avg rating — 4,140 ratings
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31

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3.87 avg rating — 6,710 ratings
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32

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4.42 avg rating — 11,284 ratings
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33

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4.15 avg rating — 7,382 ratings
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34

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3.68 avg rating — 5,834 ratings
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35

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4.11 avg rating — 11,877 ratings
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36

by
3.82 avg rating — 10,226 ratings
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37

by
3.88 avg rating — 5,027 ratings
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38

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 4,014 ratings
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39

by
3.89 avg rating — 26,486 ratings
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40

by
3.81 avg rating — 4,760 ratings
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41

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4.03 avg rating — 15,037 ratings
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42

by
3.88 avg rating — 10,116 ratings
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43

by
3.81 avg rating — 79,714 ratings
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44

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3.40 avg rating — 4,890 ratings
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45

by
3.68 avg rating — 3,100 ratings
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46

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3.73 avg rating — 5,802 ratings
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47

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3.55 avg rating — 5,478 ratings
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48

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3.75 avg rating — 6,844 ratings
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49

by
3.93 avg rating — 3,529 ratings
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50

by
3.92 avg rating — 15,198 ratings
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51

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3.56 avg rating — 5,952 ratings
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52

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4.30 avg rating — 14,917 ratings
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53

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3.62 avg rating — 3,750 ratings
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54

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4.13 avg rating — 5,157 ratings
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55

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3.49 avg rating — 4,169 ratings
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56

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3.83 avg rating — 2,669 ratings
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57

by
3.85 avg rating — 2,008 ratings
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58

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4.17 avg rating — 3,089 ratings
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59

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3.80 avg rating — 2,440 ratings
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60

by
3.31 avg rating — 5,075 ratings
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61

by
3.81 avg rating — 6,054 ratings
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62

by
3.69 avg rating — 2,822 ratings
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63

by
3.18 avg rating — 3,035 ratings
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64

by
3.86 avg rating — 2,707 ratings
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65

by
3.65 avg rating — 2,206 ratings
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66

by
3.91 avg rating — 1,906 ratings
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67

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3.59 avg rating — 7,963 ratings
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68

by
3.70 avg rating — 4,283 ratings
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69

by
3.80 avg rating — 2,479 ratings
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70

by
4.11 avg rating — 17,188 ratings
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71

by
3.91 avg rating — 1,321 ratings
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72

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4.10 avg rating — 2,194 ratings
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73

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3.91 avg rating — 1,044 ratings
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74

by
3.89 avg rating — 355 ratings
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75

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4.28 avg rating — 7,218 ratings
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76

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3.97 avg rating — 2,375 ratings
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77

by
3.83 avg rating — 962 ratings
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78

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3.95 avg rating — 1,273 ratings
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79

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3.94 avg rating — 2,105 ratings
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80

by
4.03 avg rating — 1,849 ratings
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81

by
3.60 avg rating — 2,194 ratings
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82

by
4.13 avg rating — 2,051 ratings
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83

by
3.92 avg rating — 1,064 ratings
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84

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4.18 avg rating — 1,138 ratings
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85

by
3.70 avg rating — 2,813 ratings
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86

by
3.68 avg rating — 2,197 ratings
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87

by
3.95 avg rating — 821 ratings
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88

by
3.82 avg rating — 1,697 ratings
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89

by
3.92 avg rating — 2,229 ratings
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90

by
4.05 avg rating — 12,662 ratings
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91

by
3.93 avg rating — 1,580 ratings
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92

by
4.05 avg rating — 1,983 ratings
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93

by
3.68 avg rating — 1,414 ratings
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94

by
3.88 avg rating — 1,799 ratings
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95

by
3.64 avg rating — 4,049 ratings
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96

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 428 ratings
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97

by
3.96 avg rating — 2,807 ratings
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98

by
3.93 avg rating — 1,462 ratings
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99

by
3.54 avg rating — 1,447 ratings
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100

by
3.65 avg rating — 871 ratings
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516 books · 2,414 voters · list created June 21st, 2008 by Mitu (votes) .
1245 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Mitu 89 books
3 friends
Jessica 2469 books
107 friends
Holly 434 books
173 friends
Greyweather 2597 books
69 friends
Joel 96 books
2 friends
Zoe 509 books
52 friends
Jenn 2276 books
39 friends
Karen 913 books
58 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 82) (82 new)


message 1: by Mofo (new)

Mofo Why isn't Battle Royale on this list?


message 2: by Jen (new)

Jen If The Unconsoled is on this list, then Never Let Me Goshould be on it.


message 3: by Russell (new)

Russell kazuo ishiguro writes in english.


message 4: by Jen (new)

Jen Russell wrote: "kazuo ishiguro writes in english."

Correct, but The Unconsoled is on this list, and it is written by Ishiguro. :)


message 5: by John (new)

John Kerrison Mofo wrote: "Why isn't Battle Royale on this list? "

It is. 5th one down.


message 6: by Nelliel (new)

Nelliel The Last Concubine by Leslie Downer...


message 7: by Nozomi (new)

Nozomi The Tale of Genji needs to be on this list.


message 8: by Jen (new)

Jen Nozomi wrote: "The Tale of Genji needs to be on this list."

Agreed!



message 9: by Paul (new)

Paul JB Kazuo Ishiguro not only writes in English, he IS English. 'The Unconsoled' shouldn't be on this list. It's not even set in Japan.


message 10: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston The Mishima novel I've re-read the most (Runaway Horses) isn't on this list, either.


message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn "Shogun" isn't a Japanese book, but I voted for it anyway---great historical novel!


message 12: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Plum Wine By Angela Davis?


message 13: by dthtrtr (new)

dthtrtr I voted on Birthday :)
Lemon Heart was heart shattering...


message 14: by Alex (last edited Jul 19, 2010 04:36AM) (new)

Alex Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro deleted. (not a Japanese book)

see Paul's comments above.

*Also have deleted Memoirs of a Geisha and another Kazuo Ishiguro book "Nocturnals etc.."

Same reason - Not Japanese. Geisha might be about Japan but it wasn't first written in Japanese or by a Japanese person.


message 15: by Yas (new)

Yas Actually Ishiguro was born in Japan so I think that makes him Japanese regardless of which language he writes in.


message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul JB (RESURRECTS THREAD)

Yas, you are entirely correct that he was born in Japan, and I believe he still holds Japanese citizenship. But he moved from Nagasaki when he was 5, and he has talked extensively in interviews about his irritation at lazy lit-critics trying to peg his style as Japanese. When he does write about Japan, such as in his first two novels, it is always in a very self-consciously imaginary fashion. So even though you may lay some fair claim to his Japanese ethnicity, the books themselves don't really belong on this list in my humble opinion.


message 17: by Alex (new)

Alex I agree Paul and while Ishiguro has Japanese heritage his books are written in English which don't make them "Japanese" books even if they are about Japan. (still haven't read any of them yet)


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmmm Geisha, a life by Mineko Iwasaki isn't here either.


message 20: by christokristo (new)

christokristo Ishiguro was born in Japan but move to england while he was 6 or 7 and he already have British citizenship. I think his works should not on be the lists


message 21: by ABC (new)

ABC He became a British citizen when he was 22 years old. Since he is both British and Japanese, he should be included.


message 22: by Trang (new)

Trang Le Kirei wrote: "He became a British citizen when he was 22 years old. Since he is both British and Japanese, he should be included."

How can his books be included when he was English bred, identifies more with Britain and his books are not concerned about Japan?


message 23: by Livy (new)

Livy just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?


message 24: by Fincalian (new)

Fincalian And what is I was Told There'd be Cake doing on here?


message 25: by Michael (last edited Nov 08, 2011 03:00PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Deleted "Never Let Me Go," "I Was Told There'd Be Cake," and "Catcher in the Rye." In each case, the author is not Japanese, the book was written in English, and the subject matter is not related to Japan. Nothing about these books are Japanese, so they are inappropriate to this list.


message 26: by David (new)

David Incredible list! I have read several of these and saved even more to my "to read" list! I added several more that I thought might belong on this list including:

So Sad to Fall in Battle
Something Like an Autobiography
20th Century Boys
Battle Angel Alita
Japan Atlas
Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams
Mishima's Sword
The Rising Sun
A Modern History of Japan
A Hundred Years of Japanese Film
Dreaming Pachinko

The last five on the list are on Japan but not by Japanese authors so not sure which of those would fit best on this list (please delete if you feel necessary, it will not offend me). I own all those books and they are all really good. Great list!


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Wold Mofo wrote: "Why isn't Battle Royale on this list? "

Because it is a list of "the best" Japanese books. Battle Royale is a classic and a great alternative to Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies. I was going to write how it should not be considered "the best" but as I am writing my thoughts I have started to see your point. I wouldn't put it on this list for its amateur craftsmanship and pulpy violence. But I wouldn't object if you put Battle Royale on the list.


message 28: by Alex (new)

Alex Battle Royale is on the list, it's in 4th place and I would hardly call it an alternative to Hunger Games. Hunger Games pretty much ripped off Battle Royale, made it more YA and gave it a female lead to get more readers and it worked.


message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Fully agree with Alex.


message 30: by Masanaka (new)

Masanaka Takashima Thank you for the wonderful list! I would like you to include these next time: "Lonely Hearts Killer" by Tomoyuki Hoshino; "The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P" by Rieko Matsuura; "The Doctor's Wife" by Sawako Ariyoshi


message 31: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Masanaka,

Click "add books to this list" at the top of the page and then type in those three books. The list is made by everyone.


message 32: by Masanaka (new)

Masanaka Takashima Hi Michael, thank you for letting me know how this space grow. I have just added the books above and more. Cheers.


message 33: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon No problem, Masanaka.


message 34: by Sizilien (new)

Sizilien I love "The Summer of the Ubume".


message 35: by GlenK (new)

GlenK Didn't see The Tattoo Murder Case on the list. Excellent locked-room mystery set in post-WWII Tokyo.


message 36: by Matīss (new)

Matīss Livy wrote: "just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?"

I wonder about it, too. And so many votes... What does that mean?


message 37: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Matīss wrote: "Livy wrote: "just out of curiosity, what is Catcher in the Rye doing on this list?"

I wonder about it, too. And so many votes... What does that mean?"


I wonder what that means too. I deleted it... again.


message 38: by Mark (last edited Feb 01, 2013 11:49PM) (new)

Mark It is interesting that "Across The Nightingale Floor" is on the list. Although the "Tales of the Otori" books are set in a place fairly closely resembling feudal Japan, they are actually set in a fictional island nation, not any real place in Japan.


message 39: by Michael (last edited Feb 03, 2013 08:31PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Mark wrote: "It is interesting that "Across The Nightingale Floor" is on the list. Although the "Tales of the Otori" books are set in a place fairly closely resembling feudal Japan, they are actually set in a f..."

Where the books take place is irrelevant. The author is not Japanese though, so I'll remove the book.


message 40: by Mark (new)

Mark Oh, OK. Though it was just a comment.


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Yep, just clarifying how the list works! Someone managed to remove the book before I got to it. Yay!


message 43: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Thanks, Anna!


message 44: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Woodfine This seems a great list, and just what im looking for. Il be honest, ive only really read Haruki Murakami, but want to delve further into Japanese literature. Do any of you guys have any recommendations for the next books to read?


message 45: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon The strange otherworldiness of Kpbo Abe's The Box Man might be a fitting follow-up to Murakami.


message 46: by Evan (new)

Evan Lavine Great List!


message 47: by Evan (new)

Evan Lavine Not sure if I saw Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. Absolutely love that quiet little book of short stories that roll up on you in the most hauntingly beautiful way!


message 48: by Booklovinglady (last edited Apr 11, 2013 06:55AM) (new)

Booklovinglady The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (no. 104) is not a Japanese book. The story may be set in Japan (for the most part, anyway) but the author, David Mitchell, is British (Merseyside) and lives in Europe. Therefore, the book has been deleted.


message 49: by Wong (new)

Wong Casandra Booklovinglady wrote: "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (no. 104) is not a Japanese book. The story may be set in Japan (for the most part, anyway) but the author, David Mitchell, is British (Merseyside) and lives i..."


Agreed. Good book though.


message 50: by Wong (new)

Wong Casandra Evan wrote: "Not sure if I saw Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. Absolutely love that quiet little book of short stories that roll up on you in the most hauntingly beautiful way!"

I particularly liked the story about the girl who was in love with her diver stepbrother (the main story, unsurprisingly). And the Professor and Housekeeper novel she wrote was a gem too.

Didn't like Hotel Iris though.


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